Stewards of Gondor
Steward was the traditional title of a chief counsellor to one of the Kings of Gondor. The office of Arandur first came into existence during the reign of King Rómendacil I. After the Stewardship of Húrin of Emyn Arnen the office was filled solely by his heirs and during the time of the Steward Pelendur, from the famous House of Húrin, this title became hereditary, passing the station of counsellor from father to son, much like the Kingship.
The House of Húrin was founded by one Húrin of Emyn Arnen, Steward to King Minardil, the twenty-fifth King of Gondor. They were of high Númenórean blood, but not descendants of Elendil in the ruling line. Húrin was, in fact, the great-great-great-grandson of Eldacar through a female line.
Although not formally a Ruling Steward, Pelendur was the first to effectively rule the kingdom, doing so for one year after the death of King Ondoher and his sons while fighting the Wainriders. He played a key role in influencing the Council of Gondor to choose Eärnil over Arvedui of Arthedain, thus maintaining the line of the heirs of Anárion. Incidentally, Pelendur's actions were also influential in the rise of the office of Stewards to power, as Eärnil's son Eärnur left no heir.
Eärnur rode against the Witch-king and never returned. Since his fate could not be clearly established, the Steward Mardil Voronwë administered Gondor in the name of the absent King, thus becoming the first of the Ruling Stewards. This solution was also precipitated by the fact of Eärnur's failure to father a child and the demise of the northern kingdom of Arthedain. Mardil's descendants administered Gondor as Ruling Stewards for 25 generations. The stewards from Eradan to Dior ruled during the period known as the Watchful Peace. The Ruling Stewards ruled in place of the King, swearing an oath to do so "until he shall return". In practice, they exercised all the powers formerly held by the Kings, and discouraged speculation about royal claimants. Nevertheless, the Ruling Stewards avoided associating themselves with any of the symbols of kingship. They sat on a simple chair of black stone placed on the lowest step of the dais surrounding the throne, and wore no crown, and held no sceptre, only a white rod, the emblem of their office. The royal flag was replaced with the banner of the Stewards, which was white without any charges.
The Stewards watched over the throne until it could be reclaimed by a true King of Gondor, an heir of Elendil. When asked by his son Boromir how long must pass before a Steward could become a King, if the King did not return, Denethor II replied: "Few years, maybe, in other places of less royalty ... In Gondor ten thousand years would not suffice."  After generations of rule by the Stewards, they hardened their hearts against the return of an heir of Elendil.
Before the Line of Kings failed two conditions applied to the Steward: He was not allowed to leave the realm or go to war, in effect ensuring smooth government while the King was away on campaign.
The family tree of the Stewards of Gondor can be found here.
Ruling Stewards of Gondor
The following is a list of the Ruling Stewards of Gondor. (All dates are from the Third Age.)
- Mardil Voronwë "the Steadfast" (2029r.2050–2080)
- Eradan (2080–2116)
- Herion (2116–2148)
- Belegorn (2148–2204)
- Húrin I (2204–2244)
- Túrin I (2244–2278)
- Hador (2278–2395)
- Barahir (2395–2412)
- Dior (2412–2435)
- Denethor I (2435–2477) - son of Dior's sister.
- Boromir (2477–2489)
- Cirion (2489–2567)
- Hallas (2567–2605)
- Húrin II (2605–2628)
- Belecthor I (2628–2655)
- Orodreth (2655–2685)
- Ecthelion I (2685–2698)
- Egalmoth (2698–2743) - grandson of Orodreth's sister, Morwen.
- Beren (2743–2763)
- Beregond (2763–2811)
- Belecthor II (2811–2872)
- Thorondir (2872–2882)
- Túrin II (2882–2914)
- Turgon (2914–2953)
- Ecthelion II (2953–2984)
- Denethor II (2984–3019)
Soon after the death of Denethor II, Aragorn Elessar was crowned King. The Steward Faramir, son of Denethor II, surrendered to the King his rod of office, but it was returned to him. Faramir nominally ruled briefly as Steward until Elessar's coronation, but since Faramir rested in the Houses of Healing, Prince Imrahil of Dol Amroth ruled instead of him; when Imrahil also parted to the campaign against Mordor, representing Gondor, he was replaced for Minas Tirith by Húrin the Tall, Warden of the Keys. The army anticipated Aragorn's coronation by fighting in the name of the King Elessar; however, the military commander of the joint forces, by common agreement, was rather Gandalf. Faramir finally took the position of a Ruling Steward and should thus be considered as such. King Elessar confirmed in Faramir, as well as his descendants, the office of Steward of Gondor, granting him in addition the Princedom of Ithilien, ensuring his line a position as counsellor to the King.
- ^ Reported by Faramir in The Two Towers, "The Window on the West"
- ^ That he sometimes is not is probably because Tolkien did not include him with a number in his List of the Ruling Stewards, as appears in the Appendix of The Lord of the Rings, but he did add a paragraph to the list mentioning Faramir.
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